BILL SUMMARY for SB09-016
SENATE COMMITTEE ON FINANCE
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The meeting came to order. A quorum was present.
02:05 PM -- Senate Bill 09-016
Senator Kopp, prime sponsor, presented SB 09-016, a bill that includes measures to encourage the restoration of forest areas affected by bark eetle infestation. Senator Kopp explained that the bill was approved by the Interim Committee on Wildfire Issues in Wildland-Urban Interface Areas. He stated that the bill has three main pieces, including: a five-year property tax exemption from business personal property used for timber killed by bark beetles, a revolving loan fund to provide capital for new businesses, and a designated ombudsman to identify areas in Colorado where bark beetle infestation has resulted in fire danger. He said SB 09-016 would have a minimal fiscal impact, and that given the scope of the bark beetle problem, it is important to encourage the development of new business in this area. Senator Kopp also stated that he is working with the Governor's Office of Economic Development and International Trade to identify funding for the revolving loan program.
Senator Kopp responded to questions from committee members about the definition of firewood, the types of businesses included in the bill language, property tax liability, and the administrative costs in the bill. He stated that he would like the administrative costs to be as close to zero as possible. Discussion also ensued about the loss of property tax revenue to counties in Colorado, and Senator Kopp stated that he is engaged in an ongoing discussion with counties in Colorado about the potential impact.
Senator Kopp expressed his intention to work with members of the committee on the issues presented. He stated he would be willing to return to the committee with revised bill language.
The following witnesses testified:
02:34 PM -- Mr. Joe Duda, representing the Colorado State Forest Service, testified in support of SB 09-016. He stated the bill would provide the necessary resources the agency needs to address the bark beetle problem. Mr. Duda discussed the extent of the infestation problem throughout Colorado and the business opportunities for addressing it. The State Forest Service would like to determine what constitutes bark-beetle killed timber, he explained, because bark beetles survive in different conditions. He also stated the State Forest Service wants the flexibility to issue revolving loans. Mr. Duda responded to questions from the committee about lumber mills, fees on trucks, and the definition of bark beetle timber.
02:47 PM -- Mr. Andre Roy, forestry entrepreneur, testified about the bill. Mr. Roy provided background about his career in the forest industry, and explained that he recently invented a machine that turns slash and trees into fertilizer. He stated that he believes it is critical to encourage entrepreneurs and businesses in Colorado to invest in the forestry industry, and has been working with Colorado State University for many years on forestry issues. Mr. Roy responded to questions from the committee about the volume, tree acres, and the profitability of his business.
Senator Sandoval closed public testimony. Committee discussion ensued about modifying the bill. After much discussion, the Chair laid Senate Bill 09-016 over.